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8/21/2017 The Israeli Response - History

8/21/2017 The Israeli Response - History

The Israeli government seems to have a problem — its well-trained, hyper-sensitive antenna always able to detect antisemitism appears to be failing. However, the controversy created as a result of Netanyahu's visit to Hungary pales in comparison to the disputes triggered by the Prime Minister's deafening silence following the recent attack in Charlottesville, VA.

Netanyahu remained silent, despite the flying of Nazis flags and shouting of blatant anti-semitic chants from the protestors in Charlottesville. It was not until after President Donald Trump's second press statement on the subject in which he condemned the neo-Nazis — that Netanyahu tweeted the following from the Prime Minister's official account (and not on his personal account): “Outraged by expressions of antisemitism, neo-Nazism and racism. Everyone should oppose this hatred.”

After President Trump backtracked, and once again blamed both sides for the violence in his impromptu press conference the next day, PM Netanyahu remained completely silent. Members of Netanyahu’s Likud party also failed to criticize President Trump's statements (with the exception of Science, Technology and Space Minister Ofir Akunis, who posted a negative comment about neo-Nazis). In fact, the public statement was the polar opposite, Minister of Communication Ayoub Kara considered a Netanyahu confidant stated: “Due to the terrific relations with the US, we need to put the declarations about the Nazis in the proper proportion,” Kara continued:

“We need to condemn antisemitism and any trace of Nazism, and I will do what I can as a minister to stop its spread. But Trump is the best US leader Israel has ever had. His relations with the Prime Minister of Israel are wonderful, and after enduring the terrible years of Obama, Trump is the unquestioned leader of the free world, and we must not accept anyone harming him.”

The Prime Minister's 26-year-old son, Yair Netanyahu wrote on his personal Facebook page:

“To put things in perspective. I'm a Jew, I'm an Israeli, the neo-Nazi scums in Virginia hate me and my country. But they belong to the past. Their breed is dying out. However, the thugs of Antifa and BLM who hate my country (and America too in my view) just as much are getting stronger and stronger and becoming super dominant in American universities and public life.”

While members of the Likud have been towing the line set down by Prime Minister Netanyahu, not all the members of the coalition have followed suit. Naftali Bennett, head of the religious HaBayit Hayehudi party wrote on his twitter: “Nazi flags in the US. US leadership must unequivocally condemn.”

While not explicitly criticizing President Trump, President Reuven "Ruvy" Rivlin wrote a letter to Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice President of the Presidents' Conference of Major Jewish Organizations, stating:

“The very idea that in our time we would see a Nazi flag — perhaps the most vicious symbol of antisemitism — paraded in the streets of the world’s greatest democracy and Israel’s most cherished and greatest ally, is almost beyond belief.”

Israeli politicians from the opposition have been much more outspoken. Yair Lapid, head of the Yesh Atid party and the son of a Holocaust survivor wrote the following condemnation on his Facebook page:

“There aren’t two sides. When Neo-Nazis march in Charlottesville and scream slogans against Jews and in support of white supremacy, the condemnation has to be unambiguous. They represent hate and evil. Anyone who believes in the human spirit must stand against them without fear.”

Other opposition leaders spoke out unequivocally as well. Former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni wrote an extensive article criticizing the Neo-Nazis on this site: I Was Appalled To See Americans Brandishing Swastikas .

It should be noted that most of the Israeli public seems unmoved by President Trump's various declarations. A recent survey of Israelis shows continued confidence in President Trump. Of course, that could be due partly to the fact that Israel's most widely read daily newspaper buried the stories on Charlottesville. President Trump’s statement, his press conference, and his reversal were all pushed to page 26. In contrast, the other newspapers led with the story of Charlottesville and Trump’s responses on page one. It might just be a coincidence that that paper, Yisrael Hayom, is owned by Sheldon Adelson, one of Trump's prime supporters.

Prime Minister Netanyahu appears to be one of the few world leaders who is not willing to criticize President Trump's response to events in Charlottesville. It is shocking to see a leader who has used the memory of the Holocaust to try to delegitimize all forms of criticism of Israel, remain mute when the President of the United States equivocates while denouncing clear and ever-present antisemitism.

The question is… why? Why has Netanyahu refrained from criticizing Trump's statements? Since we may never know the true answer, we are left with speculation. One possibility is that taking into account the mercurial personality of the current US President, Netanyahu is genuinely fearful of what an angry Trump might do.

Second, it is very difficult to admit being wrong. Netanyahu and the Israeli right-wing were gleeful when Trump won the election. Now, it is hard to admit they might have been wrong and that Trump may not be the best U.S. President for Israel.

Third, a form of blindness has developed within the Israeli right. They have made a pair of mistakes that feed on each other. The right seems to believe any criticism of Israel is antisemitic. Thus, in the assessment of the right-wing, when any left-wing individual criticizes the occupation of the West Bank or other Israeli activities, they insist those critics must be antisemitic.

MJ Rosenberg recently wrote “Anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism”. As Rosenberg explains, not all criticism of Israel is antisemitic. The converse of that statement is also false — i.e., if you support Israel you cannot be antisemitic. This idea stands behind the inability of right-wing Israelis to understand that right-wing politicians world wide — whether in Hungary, or the United States — may actually be antisemitic, even though they support Israel. Oddly, it is the very politicians who call out antisemitism, especially those on the left, who seem to turn a blind eye to traditional antisemites.

The danger of the absence of a reaction by the Prime Minister and those closest to him to the actions, or lack thereof by Trump will not be a “victory” for the Nazis. However, Netanyahu and his governing party's neglect to speak up may well have elicited a further break between Israel and American Jewry. Here in Israel, there has been no sense of the embattlement that many in the American Jewish community have felt during these past weeks; there has been no identifying with or attempting to aid a community in trouble.

More dangerous is the jeopardy that sitting on the sidelines now could cause to the security of Israel in the future. Trump supporters are a minority of Americans. One day, whether sooner or later, the Trump administration will come to an end. When that time comes, will most Americans still see an Israel that shares its values? Or regard Israel as one of the few countries in the world to support Trump to the bitter end.


September 11 Attacks

On September 11, 2001, 19 militants associated with the Islamic extremist group al Qaeda hijacked four airplanes and carried out suicide attacks against targets in the United States. Two of the planes were flown into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, a third plane hit the Pentagon just outside Washington, D.C., and the fourth plane crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Almost 3,000 people were killed during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which triggered major U.S. initiatives to combat terrorism and defined the presidency of George W. Bush.


Bill Maher defends Israel, rips 'liberal media' and 'Bella Hadids of the world'

"Real Time" host Bill Maher weighed in on the Israel-Gaza conflict Friday night after canceling last week's show following his positive coronavirus test result.

He quickly took issue with the "liberal media" for its coverage of the fighting.

"One of the frustrations I had while I was off is that I was watching this war go on in Israel … and it was frustrating to me because there was no one on liberal media to defend Israel, really," Maher began the panel discussion.

"We've become this country now that we're kind of one-sided on this issue. And I'd also like to say off the bat I don't think kids understand -- and when I say kids I mean the younger generations – you can't learn history from Instagram," the 65-year-old Maher added. "There's just not enough space."

The host clashed with New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, who suggested that Israel had committed "possible war crimes" against Gaza.

"Well, Gaza fired 4,000 rockets into Israel. What would you say Israel should have done instead of what they did?" Maher asked.

"I mean, international lawyers are pretty clear that they have a right to defend themselves … but there is a sense that their response was probably a war crime because they did not sufficiently avoid civilian casualties," Kristof responded.

"But they purposely put the rockets in civilian places," Maher fired back. "That's their strategy."

The HBO star pushed back at the liberal narrative that Israel "stole" the land – with terms like "occupiers" and "apartheid" being thrown around.

"The Jews have been in that area of the world since about 1200 B.C., way before the first Muslim or Arab walked the earth. . I mean, Jerusalem was their capital. So if it's who got there first, it's not even close," Maher said. "The Jews were the ones who were occupied by everybody the Romans took over at some point and then the Persians and the Byzantines and then the Ottomans. So yes, there was colonization going on there. Beginning in the 19th century, they started to return to Palestine, which was never an Arab country. There was never a country called Palestine that was a distinct Arab country."

Maher then pulled up two maps comparing the United Nations' 1947 proposed Israeli-Palestinian territories, pointing out the Arabs would have had the "good part of the country," versus Israel's contemporary borders.

"Doesn't it behoove the people who rejected the half a loaf and continue to attack … Hamas's charter says they just want to wipe out Israel. Their negotiation position is 'You all die,'" Maher said. "The two-state solution has been on the table a number of times. There could be an Arab capital in East Jerusalem now if Yasser Arafat had accepted that in 2003. He did not.

"I mean, they have rejected this and went to war time and time again," he continued, "And, you know, as far as Gaza goes, it's amazing to me that the progressives think that they're being progressive by taking that side of it, the Bella Hadids of the world, these influencers. I just want to say in February of this year, a Hamas court ruled that a unmarried woman cannot travel in Gaza without the permission of a male guardian. Really? That's where the progressives are? Bella Hadid and her friends would run screaming to Tel Aviv if they had to live in Gaza for one day."

Kristof attempted to defend Hadid, saying he "didn't perceive" that the supermodel was defending Hamas but rather speaking up for the "57 kids in Gaza" who were killed amid the conflict. Maher pushed back, pointing to Hadid's chant, "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free," a slogan that has long been interpreted as the elimination of the Jewish state.

Maher continued to blast the notion that Israel is a so-called "apartheid," arguing it's far different from the actual apartheid of South Africa that was controlled by Britain and Holland who "had no claim to the land."

"The Israelis, they have made mistakes, but it's an ‘apartheid’ state because they keep getting attacked!" Maher exclaimed. "If they don't keep a tight lid on this s---, they get killed! That seems like something different!"


How Did the Current Israel/Hamas Conflict Start and What is Next?

During the beginning of Ramadan many Jews were being assaulted for being outwardly Jewish.

Palestinians Jerusalemites filmed themselves tearing Israeli flags and attacking Jews coming back from prayers from the Western Wall.

Police reacted to the violence by preventing Jews from walking into the Arab quarter and setting up checkpoints to prevent more violence.

Some radical Palestinian groups accused Israel of discriminating against the Arab population in Jerusalem and encouraged Arab youth to riot.

Israeli police eventually removed the checkpoints within the old city in order to quell the violence.

Radical groups decided to focus their attention to the Sheikh Jarah neighborhood and fomented violence against Jews in the neighborhood.

The court case of the house in question of Sheikh Jarah was proven to be Jewish property under the Ottoman period.

The Supreme court of Israel was looking to find an eviction date for the current Arab tenants.

The decision of the Supreme Court was delayed because of the violence in the neighborhood.

As Jerusalem Day (an Israeli holiday mostly celebrated by National Religious Jews celebrating the reunification of Israel in 1967) began on Monday during the beginning of the week, both Palestinians and Israeli Border Police clashed during the day.

Jerusalem police stated that Palestinian rioters were throwing stones and shooting fireworks at the police, such action later forced them to storm the mosque compound.

Hamas has used this situation as an excuse to get involved and demanded the Israeli government release all rioters in prison as well as remove all Jews from Sheikh Jarrah or at 6pm they would launch rockets.

Hamas being true to their word fired hundreds of rockets towards the center of the country, Jerusalem, the civilian airport, and the area near Gaza which resulted in Israeli strikes.

Hamas wants to create more chaos used the fire on Al Aqsa as propaganda to incite Arab citizens of Israel.

” Hamas Political Bureau Member and former Minister of the Interior Fathi Hammad urged the people of Jerusalem to “cut off the heads of the Jews.” His remarks were made in a public address, which aired on Al-Aqsa TV (Hamas-Gaza) on May 7, 2021. Hammad demonstrated how they should “cut their heads off” from the artery. He added that a knife only costs five shekels, saying: “with those five shekels, you will humiliate the Jewish state.” Hammad continued to say that Jews have spread corruption and acted with arrogance, and their day or reckoning and moment of destruction have come. In September 2016, Hammad was designated as a terrorist by the U.S. State Department.”

The firing of rockets from the Gaza Strip reached an unprecedented number of rockets being fired toward Israel.

Some Israeli Arabs saying they were acting in defense of Al Aqsa went to attack any Jew they could find in their city.

Violence in Lod against Jews grew to such a level that synagogues in Lod were burned down, Jewish homes, cars and businesses were vandalized.

In response to the situation, many of the Jews in Lod accused the police of failing to protect them.

Armed Jewish volunteers showed up to Lod from the West Bank and other parts of Israel to defend Jewish lives.

Three Jews who shot at a rioter in self-defense were arrested and awaiting sentencing from a district judge.

Jews from periphery cities from Bat Yam and Tiberias wanted revenge for the day before and decided to go out to lynch Arabs the following day.

In Bat Yam, one Israeli Palestinian was severely injured when Jewish rioters tried to murder him in the street.

In Akko and Um Al Fahm they attempted the lynching of a Jewish family who managed to get away with serious injuries.

Israel has been fighting rockets, terror tunnels, drones, and RPG attacks from Gaza, while also having to deal with civil unrest within its borders.

In the meantime many Israeli Arabs and leftists have been using the war as a way to blame the Prime Minister for starting the war.

Many Jews and Arabs across Israel have come together in protests of the riots that Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies.

Incitement through social media and Arab Israelis being incited to riots has still continued for a week with no serious signs of stopping.

So how do we move forward?

Obviously the IDF can not stop attacking Hamas until they destroy any ability they have to attack Israel.

No government can ever completely eradicate a terror organization because fundamentally a terrorist organization is an ideology.

One can never kill an ideology, but the military can destroy the ability for a terror group to actively attack its own citizens.

Rioters within the country Jews and Arab citizens should be punished severely for rioting and destroying private and public property.

Any one who has taken the law into their own hands and attacked innocent people for no reason except because of hate should spend to decades in prison with revocation of voting rights and a criminal record to follow them for life.

Any Palestinian Arab Resident of Jerusalem rioting during the time of war should have their residency taken away and deported to Gaza or the Palestinian Authority.

If Palestinian Arab Residents of Jerusalem seditiously attack Jews and police officers while supporting Hamas.

Such Palestinian Arab Residents of Israel living in Jerusalem are not deserving of Israeli Residency.

If the Israeli government does not specifically punish law breakers who side with our enemies, then rioters will continue causing problems for future decades even with Hamas gone.


Timeline: Israel-Hamas Fighting Has Taken A Dire Toll

A fire rages at sunrise in the city of Khan Yunis following an Israeli airstrike in the southern Gaza Strip early on May 12.

Youssef Massoud/AFP via Getty Images

Tensions boil over in Jerusalem. Hamas fires rockets from Gaza into Israel. Israel unleashes its heavy firepower, causing casualties and destruction. Then it all repeats again and again. It is a familiar, devastating cycle of violence that has prompted protests around the world.

On Thursday, Israel's government announced a cease-fire after 11 days of fighting with Hamas. If the agreement holds, it will end the heaviest round of fighting since 2014.

Israel's bombardments in Gaza have left more than 200 Palestinians dead, according to the territory's Health Ministry, and toppled large buildings and displaced many families.

Most of Hamas' rockets are intercepted by Israeli defenses. But the attacks force Israelis to take shelter, and the rockets that get through have killed 12 people and caused damage.

The fighting is rooted in the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict and comes after Israel and Hamas have fought several wars in the past decade and a half. Hamas is an Islamist movement that's designated a terrorist group by Israel, the United States and many European countries.

World

As Airstrikes Pummel Homes In Gaza, Even A Trip To The Kitchen Requires Planning

This year, the International Criminal Court launched an investigation into possible war crimes committed by Israel and Palestinian militants during the last round of heavy fighting in Gaza, in 2014. The court has warned that the latest fighting could be investigated as well.

Here is a look at some key events in the Israel-Hamas conflict:

September 2005

Israel withdraws settlements and military personnel from the Gaza Strip, which it began to occupy after capturing the territory during the 1967 Six-Day War.

January 2006

Hamas wins an overwhelming victory in Palestinian parliamentary elections, sparking a struggle for primacy with its rival, the Fatah movement led by Mahmoud Abbas, who remains president of the Palestinian Authority to this day. Fatah is much stronger in the West Bank, while Hamas is the main power in Gaza.

That June, Hamas militants cross a tunnel from Gaza and attack an Israeli military base, killing two Israeli soldiers and capturing service member Gilad Shalit. Israel invades Gaza.

Hamas violently ousts Fatah forces from the Gaza Strip and solidifies its control of the territory. Israel and Egypt tighten their blockade of Gaza, which will devastate Gaza's economy over the next decade. Two rival governments emerge: Hamas in Gaza and Abbas' Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

December 2008

In response to heavy rocket fire from Gaza, Israel launches a major three-week offensive. After a 22-day war that kills 1,200 Palestinians and 13 Israelis, the two sides announce a cease-fire.

Benjamin Netanyahu, leader of the Likud party, becomes prime minister of Israel a second time. His long tenure eventually emboldens Israeli religious nationalists, accelerating settlement expansion and signaling opposition to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

October 2011

Looking Back At Israel's Decade Of Netanyahu

Hamas releases Shalit, the Israeli soldier it captured in the 2006 raid. Israel releases the first group of what will be more than 1,000 freed Palestinian prisoners.

Also in 2011, Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system becomes active and effectively blocks its first rocket from Gaza.

November 2012

Israel kills Hamas military chief Ahmed Jabari, sparking eight days of militant rocket fire from Gaza and an Israeli air campaign. Egyptian mediators secure a cease-fire after some 150 Palestinians and six Israelis are killed.

Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system (left) intercepts rockets fired by Hamas from Gaza toward Israel early on May 16. Israel activated the system in 2011 and credits it with stopping many rockets, but some do get through. Mohammed Abed/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system (left) intercepts rockets fired by Hamas from Gaza toward Israel early on May 16. Israel activated the system in 2011 and credits it with stopping many rockets, but some do get through.

Mohammed Abed/AFP via Getty Images

July-August 2014

Following the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers by Hamas members, Israel conducts a sweep against Hamas in the West Bank, prompting rocket attacks from Gaza and Israeli air raids. The seven-week conflict that ensues results in more than 2,200 Palestinian deaths in Gaza, more than half of them civilians. In Israel, 67 soldiers and six civilians are killed. Israel comes under heavy international criticism for its use of what the United Nations calls disproportionate force.

December 2017

President Donald Trump recognizes Israel's claim to Jerusalem as its capital and directs the State Department to move the U.S. Embassy there. Palestinians seek part of Jerusalem for their capital. Hamas calls for a Palestinian uprising.

Along the Gaza perimeter fence, Palestinian protesters, led by Hamas, stage massive demonstrations against the blockade of Gaza. Although mostly unarmed, many protesters burn tires, throw rocks and grenades at Israeli troops and damage the perimeter fence. Israeli troops kill more than 170 protesters over a period of several months. Israel says it is defending its border but is accused of using excessive force. Israel and Hamas engage in a number of rounds of intense but brief fighting during this time.

Palestinians run for cover from tear gas launched by Israeli security forces near the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, east of Jabalia, on May 14, 2018, as Palestinians protest over the inauguration of the U.S. Embassy following its controversial move to Jerusalem. Mohammed Abed/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

Palestinians run for cover from tear gas launched by Israeli security forces near the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, east of Jabalia, on May 14, 2018, as Palestinians protest over the inauguration of the U.S. Embassy following its controversial move to Jerusalem.

Mohammed Abed/AFP via Getty Images

November 2018

Violence flares up after an Israeli undercover raid into Gaza kills seven Palestinian militants and a senior Israeli army officer, marking the most serious escalation since the war in 2014. Gaza militants fire hundreds of rockets at Israel, killing a Palestinian laborer in southern Israel. At least seven Palestinians, among them five militants, are killed in Gaza.

The International Criminal Court opens an investigation into alleged crimes by Israelis and Palestinians since 2014.

Hamas fires long-range rockets toward Jerusalem in support of Palestinian protests against Israel's heavy-handed policing of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem and the threatened eviction of dozens of Palestinian families by Jewish settlers. Israel launches airstrikes on Gaza. The Israel Defense Forces say 3,750 rockets are fired from Gaza at Israel, 90% of them intercepted. Israel steps up its aerial assaults in densely populated Gaza, toppling high-rise buildings and killing 230 Palestinians, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry. Israel says militants' rockets kill 12 people in Israel. On May 20, the Israeli prime minister's office announces a cease-fire.

This story is based on atimeline by The Associated Press along with information from a variety of news and research sources.


Israel and Iran Just Showed Us the Future of Cyberwar With Their Unusual Attacks

In late April, Israeli media reported on a possible cyberattack on several water and sewage treatment facilities around the country. Israel’s national water agency initially spoke of a technical malfunction, but later acknowledged it was a cyberstrike. According to Israeli officials, the event caused no damage other than limited disruptions in local water distribution systems. At the time, the reports went all but unnoticed amid the flood of pandemic-related media coverage. Israeli media later blamed Iran for the cyberattack, which had been routed through U.S. and European servers. Iran has denied involvement. A closer look suggests that cyberwarfare is maturing into a new phase, where new rules of engagement and deterrence are in the process of being established.

Then, on May 9, a cyberattack targeted the computer systems at Iran’s busiest hub for maritime trade, Shahid Rajaee Port in Bandar Abbas near the Strait of Hormuz. According to Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization, the attack did not penetrate central security and information systems but instead disrupted private operating companies’ systems for several hours. On May 18, the Washington Post cited unnamed officials who identified Israel as the author of what appeared to be a retaliatory attack. Contradicting official Iranian claims of negligible effects, the Post reported that the attack triggered serious road and waterway congestion for several days. Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi didn’t directly acknowledge responsibility, but he alluded to the event when he declared that “Israel will continue acting [against its enemies] with a mix of instruments.”

In late April, Israeli media reported on a possible cyberattack on several water and sewage treatment facilities around the country. Israel’s national water agency initially spoke of a technical malfunction, but later acknowledged it was a cyberstrike. According to Israeli officials, the event caused no damage other than limited disruptions in local water distribution systems. At the time, the reports went all but unnoticed amid the flood of pandemic-related media coverage. Israeli media later blamed Iran for the cyberattack, which had been routed through U.S. and European servers. Iran has denied involvement. A closer look suggests that cyberwarfare is maturing into a new phase, where new rules of engagement and deterrence are in the process of being established.

Then, on May 9, a cyberattack targeted the computer systems at Iran’s busiest hub for maritime trade, Shahid Rajaee Port in Bandar Abbas near the Strait of Hormuz. According to Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization, the attack did not penetrate central security and information systems but instead disrupted private operating companies’ systems for several hours. On May 18, the Washington Post cited unnamed officials who identified Israel as the author of what appeared to be a retaliatory attack. Contradicting official Iranian claims of negligible effects, the Post reported that the attack triggered serious road and waterway congestion for several days. Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi didn’t directly acknowledge responsibility, but he alluded to the event when he declared that “Israel will continue acting [against its enemies] with a mix of instruments.”

The unusually public cyberskirmish between the Middle East’s arch-adversaries brings a shadow war fought largely in secret into a new, more open phase. Just as unusually, both parties focused on critical civilian targets but caused relatively low damage. A closer look at this new type of Israeli-Iranian exchange suggests that cyberwarfare is maturing into a new phase, where new rules of engagement and deterrence are in the process of being established.

Cyberattacks have been increasingly recognized as one of the world’s biggest threats. In its 2020 Global Risks Report, for instance, the World Economic Forum ranked cyberattacks among the top 10 risks in terms of likelihood and impact. This concern is neither new nor surprising. Cyberwarfare technologies allow countries to attack an adversary covertly at relatively low risk. It’s not only the attacker who gains deniability. Even if an attack incurs visible consequences such as disruptions to the national power grid or telecommunications networks, the victim may claim that these are the result of technical issues rather than admitting it has been successfully attacked.

State-sponsored cyber-operations have long been defined by secrecy, even as they have become more important as routine instruments of statecraft in the pursuit of power, influence, and security. Their covert character isn’t limited to deniability but inherent in the anonymous nature of the technological medium itself. However, as the Israeli-Iranian cyberspat shows, silence and plausible deniability have lately been giving way to public attribution. States and their agencies are increasingly acknowledging their roles—whether as victim or perpetrator.

That Iran and Israel would herald a new phase in cyberwarfare shouldn’t be surprising. Israel, the technology-driven “Start-up Nation,” is a world-leading cyberpower with vast government resources invested in digital security and cyberwarfare capabilities. Together with the United States, Israel was reportedly behind the Stuxnet computer virus—the world’s first digital weapon that specifically targeted and successfully paralyzed Iranian nuclear enrichment facilities about a decade ago. As the target of the attack, Iran in turn invested furiously in its own militarized cyber-infrastructure. While its capabilities are not as sophisticated as Israel’s, they are steadily improving, fueled by Tehran’s perception of the cyberthreat and an unremitting thirst for technological equality. States and their agencies are increasingly acknowledging their roles—whether as victim or perpetrator.

Their most recent cyberskirmish raises questions about motivations. Both adversaries targeted civilian infrastructure without, deliberately or otherwise, causing durable damage, even if Iran denied involvement while Israel apparently opted to leak details about its counterstrike. Furthermore, both sides were forthcoming about having been targeted and about the cyberattacks not having completely failed, likely preparing the ground for justified retaliation.

For Iran, the motive may be hidden in plain sight. There has been a growing frequency of Israeli strikes on Iranian assets and weaponry, and Iranian or Iran-backed fighters, overwhelmingly inside Syria. Cyber-retaliation targeting critical civilian infrastructure in Israel is one way for Tehran to strike back.

The latest skirmish appears to mark the beginning of a shift in the Israeli-Iranian cyberconflict, one that will likely be more public than clandestine going forward. Another change is the shift to strictly civilian facilities, whereas past cyberattacks have focused on traditional military or security targets. Disrupting civilian targets raises the stakes without heating up the military conflict. However, if the attacks on civilian targets are uncalibrated or botched, Israel and Iran risk escalation. Had Iran’s attack on water treatment facilities intended to tamper with, or successfully tampered with, the injection systems for chlorine, for instance, Israeli public health could have been at risk. Similarly, while disruptions at Shahid Rajaee Port are unlikely to kill, serious dislocations in the logistics chains of essential goods such as medicines could have real humanitarian consequences.

Even as cyberwarfare becomes more established and—as we have seen—moves into the public view, it is still a murky and uncontrolled realm. There are no hard international rules resembling the accepted conventions of armed conflict. This leaves state actors to push boundaries, with dangerous margins for error.

These dangers put a premium on deterring against unpredictable attacks—and there is an ongoing debate about the effectiveness of deterrence in cyberspace. That may be the biggest lesson from this latest Israeli-Iranian exchange: That Israel likely leaked its own cyberattack on Shahid Rajaee Port suggests it is pursuing three objectives one would normally associate with conventional deterrence.

First, Israel is signaling to Iran, and to other potential cyber-aggressors, that it will tolerate no attempts to strike critical civilian infrastructure. As we know from traditional deterrence, such red lines implicitly lay out the rules of future engagement. Israel’s retaliatory cyberattack suggests it is pursuing three objectives one would normally associate with conventional deterrence.

Second, Israel has demonstrated its options for retaliation—and its ability to scale up from disruption to destruction within cyberspace. Retaliation could also potentially cross over to other types of deterrence, including the military kind, although this would likely erode both states’ ability to control the ladder of escalation.

Third, Israel is communicating not just its capabilities, but also its commitment to respond to future cyber-offensives. This strengthens the credibility of its deterrence posture, even if the notion of cyberdeterrence remains nebulous. If we can assume that Israel’s cyberwarfare capabilities, including cyberdefense, remain more powerful than Iran’s, then Israel’s demonstrated red line could convey the threat of offensive responses with disproportionate effects.

Conducting a cyberskirmish out in the open would have been counterintuitive in an earlier age of cyberwarfare, when Israel and Iran might have chosen to remain silent or blame technical glitches. But their conflict has entered a new phase—and not just in the cybersecurity realm. In Syria, the Israeli-Iranian contest has already seen a shift to open quasi-warfare from earlier conflicts conducted in the shadows or through proxies. The digital wars between both adversaries—and potentially elsewhere—are also now likely to become more frequent, more open, and aimed at a wider swath of targets. Even as we see the first tenuous attempts to establish new rules for deterrence, the scope for miscalculation has just become bigger.

Gil Baram, an expert for cyberstrategy and policy, is a research fellow at Tel Aviv University’s Blavatnik Interdisciplinary Cyber Research Center.

Kevjn Lim is a doctoral researcher at Tel Aviv University's School of Political Science, Government and International Affairs. He is also a Middle East and North Africa consultant for IHS Markit.

How an Iranian Airline Tied to Terrorism Likely Spread the Virus (and Lied About It)

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Trump is keen on cyberattacks to retaliate against Tehran, but that could open Pandora’s box.


“I am not a Jew with trembling knees” Menachem Begin’s reply to Joe Biden’s threats in US Senate (1982)

“…we are not to be threatened. I am a proud Jew. Three thousand years of culture are behind me, and you will not frighten me with threats. Take note: we do not want a single soldier of yours to die for us.” — Menachem Begin’s response to US Senator Joseph Biden’s threats in 1982.

Perhaps it is this, this longstanding, unwavering hostility towards the Jewish state that prompted Barack Obama to award to Vice President Joe Biden with the Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States during his last days in office. Or maybe it’s Biden’s outspoken commitment to deepening relations with Iran… an Islamist terror state, also dedicated to Israel’s destruction, that earned him this extraordinary honor.

Not A Jew With Trembling Knees

History often repeats itself.

On June 22 1982, Joe Biden was a Senator from Delaware and confronted then Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin during his Senate Foreign Relations committee testimony, threatening to cut off aid to Israel. Begin forcefully responded, “Don’t threaten us with cutting off your aid. It will not work. I am not a Jew with trembling knees. I am a proud Jew with 3,700 years of civilized history. Nobody came to our aid when we were dying in the gas chambers and ovens. Nobody came to our aid when we were striving to create our country. We paid for it. We fought for it. We died for it. We will stand by our principles. We will defend them. And, when necessary, we will die for them again, with or without your aid.”

[…] As a senior Israeli elected official noted, “Settlement building will be one of the basic guidelines of the next government and just as I don’t interfere in America if they build in Florida or California, they don’t need to interfere in building in Judea or Samaria.”

Senator Biden reportedly banged the table with his fist, and Begin retorted, “This desk is designed for writing, not for fists. Don’t threaten us with slashing aid. Do you think that because the US lends us money it is entitled to impose on us what we must do? We are grateful for the assistance we have received, but we are not to be threatened. I am a proud Jew. Three thousand years of culture are behind me, and you will not frighten me with threats. Take note: we do not want a single soldier of yours to die for us.”

After the meeting, Sen. Moynihan approached Begin and praised him for his cutting reply. To which Begin answered with thanks, defining his stand against threats.

Ze’ev Jabotinsky, the leader of the Revisionist movement, which both Begin & Netanyahu emanate from noted in 1940 that, “We hold that Zionism is moral and just. And since it is moral and just, justice must be done, no matter whether Joseph or Simon or Ivan or Achmed agree with it or not.”

World leaders would be apt to remember these words and times.

About the Author: Ronn Torossian is Founder and CEO of 5WPR, a leading PR Firm in New York and one of the 20 largest independently owned agencies in the United States. Ronn is an active Jewish philanthropist through his charity organization, the Ronn Torossian Foundation.


Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

In October 2020, an Israeli court ruled that several Palestinian families living in Sheikh Jarrah—a neighborhood in East Jerusalem—were to be evicted by May 2021 with their land handed over to Jewish families. In February 2021, several Palestinian families from Sheikh Jarrah filed an appeal to the court ruling and prompted protests around the appeal hearings, the ongoing legal battle around property ownership, and demanding an end to the forcible displacement of Palestinians from their homes in Jerusalem.

In late April 2021, Palestinians began demonstrating in the streets of Jerusalem to protest the pending evictions and residents of Sheikh Jarrah—along with other activists—began to host nightly sit-ins. In early May, after a court ruled in favor of the evictions, the protests expanded with Israeli police deploying force against demonstrators. On May 7, following weeks of daily demonstrations and rising tensions between protesters, Israeli settlers, and police during the month of Ramadan, violence broke out at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem, with Israeli police using stun grenades, rubber bullets, and water cannons in a clash with protestors that left hundreds of Palestinians wounded.

After the clashes in Jerusalem’s Old City, tensions increased throughout East Jerusalem, compounded by the celebration of Jerusalem Day. On May 10, after several consecutive days of violence throughout Jerusalem and the use of lethal and nonlethal force by Israeli police, Hamas, the militant group which governs Gaza, and other Palestinian militant groups launched hundreds of rockets into Israeli territory. Israel responded with air strikes and later artillery bombardments against targets in Gaza, including launching several air strikes that killed more than twenty Palestinians. While claiming to target Hamas, other militants, and their infrastructure—including tunnels and rocket launchers—Israel expanded its aerial campaign and struck targets including residential buildings, media headquarters, and refugee and healthcare facilities.

On May 21, Israel and Hamas agreed to a cease-fire, brokered by Egypt, with both sides claiming victory and no reported violations. More than two hundred and fifty Palestinians were killed and nearly two thousand others wounded, and at least thirteen Israelis were killed over the eleven days of fighting. Authorities in Gaza estimate that tens of millions of dollars of damage was done, and the United Nations estimates that more than 72,000 Palestinians were displaced by the fighting.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict dates back to the end of the nineteenth century. In 1947, the United Nations adopted Resolution 181, known as the Partition Plan, which sought to divide the British Mandate of Palestine into Arab and Jewish states. On May 14, 1948, the State of Israel was created, sparking the first Arab-Israeli War. The war ended in 1949 with Israel’s victory, but 750,000 Palestinians were displaced and the territory was divided into 3 parts: the State of Israel, the West Bank (of the Jordan River), and the Gaza Strip.

Over the following years, tensions rose in the region, particularly between Israel and Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. Following the 1956 Suez Crisis and Israel’s invasion of the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt, Jordan, and Syria signed mutual defense pacts in anticipation of a possible mobilization of Israel troops. In June 1967, following a series of maneuvers by Egyptian President Abdel Gamal Nasser, Israel preemptively attacked Egyptian and Syrian air forces, starting the Six-Day War. After the war, Israel gained territorial control over the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza Strip from Egypt the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan and the Golan Heights from Syria. Six years later, in what is referred to as the Yom Kippur War or the October War, Egypt and Syria launched a surprise two-front attack on Israel to regain their lost territory the conflict did not result in significant gains for Egypt, Israel, or Syria, but Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat declared the war a victory for Egypt as it allowed Egypt and Syria to negotiate over previously ceded territory. Finally, in 1979, following a series of cease-fires and peace negotiations, representatives from Egypt and Israel signed the Camp David Accords, a peace treaty that ended the thirty-year conflict between Egypt and Israel.

Even though the Camp David Accords improved relations between Israel and its neighbors, the question of Palestinian self-determination and self-governance remained unresolved. In 1987, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip rose up against the Israeli government in what is known as the first intifada. The 1993 Oslo I Accords mediated the conflict, setting up a framework for the Palestinians to govern themselves in the West Bank and Gaza, and enabled mutual recognition between the newly established Palestinian Authority and Israel’s government. In 1995, the Oslo II Accords expanded on the first agreement, adding provisions that mandated the complete withdrawal of Israel from 6 cities and 450 towns in the West Bank.

In 2000, sparked in part by Palestinian grievances over Israel’s control over the West Bank, a stagnating peace process, and former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s visit to the al-Aqsa mosque—the third holiest site in Islam—in September 2000, Palestinians launched the second intifada, which would last until 2005. In response, the Israeli government approved construction of a barrier wall around the West Bank in 2002, despite opposition from the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court.

In 2013, the United States attempted to revive the peace process between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. However, peace talks were disrupted when Fatah—the Palestinian Authority’s ruling party—formed a unity government with its rival faction Hamas in 2014. Hamas, a spin-off of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood founded in 1987 following the first intifada, is one of two major Palestinian political parties and was designated a foreign terrorist organization by the United States in 1997.

In the summer of 2014, clashes in the Palestinian territories precipitated a military confrontation between the Israeli military and Hamas in which Hamas fired nearly three thousand rockets at Israel, and Israel retaliated with a major offensive in Gaza. The skirmish ended in late August 2014 with a cease-fire deal brokered by Egypt, but only after 73 Israelis and 2,251 Palestinians were killed. After a wave of violence between Israelis and Palestinians in 2015, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced that Palestinians would no longer be bound by the territorial divisions created by the Oslo Accords. In March and May of 2018, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip conducted weekly demonstrations at the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel. The final protest coincided with the seventieth anniversary of the Nakba, the Palestinian exodus that accompanied Israeli independence. While most of the protesters were peaceful, some stormed the perimeter fence and threw rocks and other objects. According to the United Nations, 183 demonstrators were killed and more than 6,000 were wounded by live ammunition.

Also in May of 2018, fighting broke out between Hamas and the Israeli military in what became the worst period of violence since 2014. Before reaching a cease-fire, militants in Gaza fired over one hundred rockets into Israel Israel responded with strikes on more than fifty targets in Gaza during the twenty-four-hour flare-up.

The Donald J. Trump administration set achieving an Israeli-Palestinian deal as a foreign policy priority. In 2018, the Trump administration canceled funding for the UN Relief and Works Agency, which provides aid to Palestinian refugees, and relocated the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a reversal of a longstanding U.S. policy. The decision to move the U.S. embassy was met with applause from the Israeli leadership but was condemned by Palestinian leaders and others in the Middle East and Europe. Israel considers the “complete and united Jerusalem” its capital, while Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state. In January 2020, the Trump administration released its long-awaited “Peace to Prosperity” plan, which was rejected by Palestinians due to its support for future Israeli annexation of settlements in the West Bank and control over an “undivided” Jerusalem.

In August and September 2020, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and then Bahrain agreed to normalize relations with Israel, making them only the third and fourth countries in the region—following Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994—to do so. The agreements, named the Abraham Accords, came more than eighteen months after the United States hosted Israel and several Arab states for ministerial talks in Warsaw, Poland, about the future of peace in the Middle East. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas rejected the accords Hamas also rejected the agreements.

There is concern that a third intifada could break out and that renewed tensions will escalate into large-scale violence. The United States has an interest in protecting the security of its long-term ally Israel, and achieving a lasting deal between Israel and the Palestinian territories, which would improve regional security.


The Massacre

  • On Wednesday, September 15, the Israeli army surrounded the Palestinian refugee camp of Shatila and the adjacent neighborhood of Sabra in West Beirut. The next day, September 16, Israeli soldiers allowed about 150 Phalangist militiamen into Sabra and Shatila.
  • The Phalange, known for their brutality and a history of atrocities against Palestinian civilians, were bitter enemies of the PLO and its leftist and Muslim Lebanese allies during the preceding years of Lebanon's civil war. The enraged Phalangist militiamen believed, erroneously, that Phalange leader Gemayel had been assassinated by Palestinians. He was actually killed by a Syrian agent.
  • Over the next day and a half, the Phalangists committed unspeakable atrocities, raping, mutilating, and murdering as many as 3500 Palestinian and Lebanese civilians, most of them women, children, and the elderly. Sharon would later claim that he could have had no way of knowing that the Phalange would harm civilians, however when US diplomats demanded to know why Israel had broken the ceasefire and entered West Beirut, Israeli army Chief of Staff Rafael Eitan justified the move saying it was "to prevent a Phalangist frenzy of revenge." On September 15, the day before the massacre began, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin told US envoy Morris Draper that the Israelis had to occupy West Beirut, "Otherwise, there could be pogroms."
  • Almost immediately after the killing started, Israeli soldiers surrounding Sabra and Shatila became aware that civilians were being murdered, but did nothing to stop it. Instead, Israeli forces fired flares into the night sky to illuminate the darkness for the Phalangists, allowed reinforcements to enter the area on the second day of the massacre, and provided bulldozers that were used to dispose of the bodies of many of the victims.
  • On the second day, Friday, September 17, an Israeli journalist in Lebanon called Defense Minister Sharon to inform him of reports that a massacre was taking place in Sabra and Shatila. The journalist, Ron Ben-Yishai, later recalled:

Olympics Massacre: Munich - The real story

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Shortly after 4am on 5 September 1972, eight heavily armed militants from Black September, a faction of the PLO, arrived on the outskirts of Munich and scaled a perimeter fence protecting thousands of athletes sleeping in the Olympic Village.

Carrying assault rifles and grenades, the Palestinians ran towards No 31 Connollystrasse, the building housing the Israeli delegation to the Munich Olympic Games. Bursting into the first apartment, they took a group of Israeli officials and trainers hostage: Yossef Gutfreund, Amitzur Shapira, Kehat Shorr, Andrei Spitzer, Jacov Springer and Moshe Weinberg.

In another apartment, they captured the Israeli wrestlers and weightlifters Eliezer Halfin, Yossef Romano, Mark Slavin, David Berger (an Israeli-American law graduate) and Zeev Friedman. When the tough Israelis fought back, the Palestinians opened fire, shooting Romano and Weinberg dead. The other nine were subdued and taken hostage. The Palestinians then demanded the release of 234 prisoners held in Israeli jails.

So began a siege and a tragedy that remains one of the most significant terror attacks of modern times. The assault, and the nature of the Israeli response, thrust the Israeli-Palestinian crisis into the world spotlight, set the tone for decades of conflict in the Middle East, and launched the new era of international terrorism. Olympic events were suspended, and broadcasters filled the time on expensive new satellite connections by switching to live footage from Connollystrasse. A TV audience of 900 million viewers in more than 100 countries watched with lurid fascination.

Initially the Palestinians seemed to relish the attention. They felt the world had ignored them for decades. But after a day of missed deadlines, "Issa", the Black September leader, wearied of negotiations. During the evening he demanded a plane to fly his men and the Israelis to the Middle East. German officials agreed to move the group in helicopters to Fürstenfeldbruck airfield base on the outskirts of Munich, where a Boeing 727 would be waiting to fly them to Cairo. Secretly, however, the Germans began planning a rescue operation at the airfield.

Zvi Zamir, the head of Mossad, Israel's intelligence agency, arrived in Munich when the plan was finalised and was flown to the airfield just ahead of the hostages and terrorists. "When we got to Fürstenfeldbruck, it was very dark," said Zamir. "I couldn't believe it. We would have had the field flooded with lights. I thought they might have had more snipers or armoured cars hiding in the shadows. But they didn't. The Germans were useless. Useless, all the way."

Just as the Palestinians and Israelis were about to land at Fürstenfeldbruck a group of German policemen on the 727 took a fateful decision and abandoned their positions. Five German snipers were then left to tackle eight well-armed Palestinians. The hostages and terrorists landed at the airfield at 10.40pm. Issa realised it was a trap and the German snipers opened fire, missing their targets. A gunfight began, and bullets sliced through the control tower where Zamir was standing. Then a stalemate developed and Zamir realised the Germans had no idea what to do.

An hour of sporadic gunfire ended when German armoured cars lumbered on to the airfield. The gunner in one car accidentally shot a couple of men on his own side, and the Palestinians apparently thought they were about to be machine-gunned. A terrorist shot four of the hostages in one helicopter as another Palestinian tossed a grenade inside. The explosion ignited the fuel tank, and the captive Israelis burned. Another terrorist then shot the Israelis in the other helicopter. Germans present at the airfield still remember the screams. Eleven Israelis, five Palestinians and one German police officer died during the Munich tragedy. The unprecedented attack, siege and massacre had a huge impact. In many ways it was the 9/11 of the 1970s. Suddenly the world realised terror was not confined to the Middle East.

For Israel, the sight of Jews dying again on German soil, just a few decades after the Holocaust, was simply too much. Israel struck back hard. Warplanes bombed Palestinian "military bases", killing many militants, but also scores of innocent civilians and children. Hundreds of Palestinians joined militant groups in response.

When Germany released the three Black September guerrillas who survived the Munich massacre, after a fabricated plane hijacking, Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir then launched a secret operation, known by some as "Wrath of God", to hunt and kill those responsible for Munich. The exploits of the Israeli agents involved in Wrath of God are the stuff of legend and cheap farce. Over the next 20 years Israeli agents killed dozens of Palestinians. They hid landmines under car seats, devised ingenious bombs, and claim to have found and killed two of the three terrorist survivors of Munich.

The first to die was Wael Zwaiter, a Palestinian intellectualwho lived in Rome. On the evening of 16 October 1972, Zwaiter was ambling home to his flat in the north of the city and entered his block just after 10.30pm. Two Israeli agents emerged from the shadows and fired 12 bullets into his body at close range. Zwaiter died in the entrance hall.

The assassins then turned their attention to Dr Mahmoud Hamshari, the PLO's representative in France, who lived in Paris with his French wife Marie-Claude and their daughter Amina. Mossad agents have since claimed he was the head of Black September in France, but offer no real evidence. In early December 1972, while an Israeli agent posing as an Italian journalist met Hamshari in a café, at least two Israeli explosives experts entered his apartment and planted a small explosive device under a table by his telephone.

The next day, after Marie-Claude had left to take Amina to school, the "Italian journalist" rang Hamshari at his home.

"Is that you, Mr Hamshari?" asked the Israeli agent in Arabic. "Yes, I am Mahmoud Hamshari," came the response.

The Israelis immediately detonated their bomb. Hamshari was conscious for long enough to tell astonished Parisian detectives what had happened, but he later died in hospital.

Other Palestinians were eliminated in the following months, before the Israelis launched their most daring operation, sending an elite squad of soldiers into Beirut to kill three senior Palestinians. Ehud Barak, the leader of Sayeret Matkal, the Israeli SAS, and later Israeli Prime Minister, led the mission disguised as a woman, with a black wig and make-up, and hand grenades in his bra. "I wore a pair of trousers because the skirts in fashion then were a little short and narrow," Barak has said. "I also had a very stylish bag, big enough for plenty of explosives."

The killings went on for at least two decades. Mossad agents have tried to claim they targeted Palestinians directly connected with the 1972 massacre. But only a couple of the Palestinians shot or blown to pieces during the operation appear to have been directly connected with the Olympic attack. Instead the dead were mainly Palestinian intellectuals, politicians and poets. And the consequences of these so-called "targeted killings" for Israel have been appalling.

Assassination was not a regular Israeli tactic until Munich. Occasionally Israeli agents sent letter bombs to scientists developing rockets for enemy states, but it was Golda Meir who set a precedent for wholesale use of murder as a counterterrorism policy by authorising an assassination campaign in the aftermath of Munich. Since then assassination has been used to kill scores of terrorists and senior militants, including many of those responsible for major bomb attacks in Israel. In the absence of political solutions, the Israeli government and people have come to rely on targeted killings as their standard response to bombings.

However, many intelligence experts and senior Mossad officials privately admit targeted killings do not work. Assassinations spur revenge attacks on Israelis, and attacks can also go wrong. During Wrath of God, Israeli agents murdered an innocent waiter in Lillehammer, Norway. Several agents were captured and jailed. Then there are the moral and legal issues surrounding targeted killings. During Operation Wrath of God Israeli agents often killed their prey when alone. But since targeted killings became standard policy Israel has repeatedly fired missiles or dropped large bombs on targets, killing bystanders.

Until 11 September 2001, Israel was the only democratic nation obviously using targeted killings to counter terrorism. In July that year, the head of the Israeli army was forced to defend the killings after criticism from the Bush administration. But after 9/11 US policy shifted and Washington prepared a list of terrorists the CIA was authorised to kill. US officials even began studying Wrath of God for tips on how they could strike at al-Qa'ida. In November 2002, a senior al-Qa'ida commander was killed in Yemen when his car was hit by a missile fired by a pilotless US Predator.

Like their Israeli counterparts, American officials have found that once assassination is used as an occasional tactic it has a habit of becoming the norm. Predators have since been used in dozens of attacks in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and other countries. US officials have even responded to the quagmire in Iraq by proposing the creation of special elite squads, managed or assisted by US forces. Yet using blunt military force against terrorists does not work. Even the supposedly clinical killings conducted by Israeli teams in response to the Munich massacre did not stop terrorism. Israelis are still dying in terror attacks.

Spielberg's Munich movie is unlikely to have much of an impact on the Israeli-Palestinian crisis. But it might help to remind people that state-sanctioned assassination campaigns have failed as a tactic against terrorism. Perhaps the film could also make audiences realise that if serious action had been taken after Munich to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, then 9/11 would probably never have happened.

Simon Reeve is the author of 'One Day in September', the full story of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre, Faber & Faber, £6.99

Big Screen: Fact, fiction and the art of film-making

The Munich massacre seems an unlikely subject for Steven Spielberg to choose as the basis for his new blockbuster.

Observers had long thought of the director as a great friend of Israel. Yet with 'Munich' Spielberg has managed to anger the Israeli government, former Mossad agents, and Palestinian militants from Black September.

Spielberg's failure to contact a number of key figures while making the film has not helped. Nor has his choice of source material. The provenance of 'Vengeance', a book by the Canadian writer George Jonas, has been questioned since it was first published in 1984.

Last summer Ariel Sharon, the Israeli Prime Minister, discovered that Spielberg had been working on the movie script with the leading left-wing American playwright Tony Kushner, who has been critical of Israeli government policies. Infuriated, Sharon gave authorisation for several former Mossad members of the assassination campaign to tell their side of the story to journalists and documentary-makers, most notably the makers of an excellent new BBC documentary, 'Munich'.

The Israeli government has since waged a whispering campaign against Spielberg's movie. Officials have made it clear they think the film is "superficial" and "pretentious". Several US critics have complained that Spielberg depicts the Palestinians and the Israelis as equally culpable.

But Spielberg has strived to offer balance in a movie everyone will watch burdened by preconceptions. The suffering and death of the Israeli athletes and officials in Munich is returned to repeatedly during the film. Palestinians are actually portrayed as human beings: no small feat in a Hollywood offering.

Yet Spielberg has not made a documentary. There is no historical context and only the briefest mention of Israeli bombing raids on Palestinian camps after the Munich massacre. And while many of the Wrath of God assassinations are accurately represented, there is plenty more that is either wrong or fabricated.

Watching the film I was enthralled yet troubled. Like it or not, it is Spielberg who is deciding how the tragedy will be remembered.

'Munich', the Spielberg movie, is released this week. 'Munich', the BBC2 documentary, is on Tuesday at 11.20pm


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